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I ran the Doomvault for the boys. It was a blast using ICRPG with the tweaks I discussed from Savage Worlds – Bennies and Action Deck Initiative. In the lower half of the picture above I have my notes ready for the Doomvault. We wound up using all of this space to build our story embellishments, as I’ll show in detail below.

Before we started, I went to my FNG store and purchased the giant d20 to indicate the current Target Number. I also decided to just replace the large, steampunk Hero Tokens with blue chips. So, for our game, we started with 3 Bennies (red chips used to either roll with Advantage or re-roll after rolling an Attempt) and 2 Hero Tokens (blue chips used to add Ultimate Effort to your Effort roll). I also found it easy to use 3 colors of those little counters that FFG makes (upper part of picture). Mainly used to count HP, Health, and Hearts. Blue = 1 HP, Green = 5 HP, Red = 10 HP or 1 Heart. I should also mention that the giant d6’s and d4’s (in the guise of a d12) in the picture are what we used to count Spell Burn and Battle Fury (page 80 of the Core 2e book).

Here’s the story board approach we used. The boys love this because I let them build it. First, 3 index cards are drawn from the pile (I’m using the 1st and 2nd releases because that’s plenty of Fantasy genre goodness). They can arrange them in any order they want to set up the Location, Goal, and Obstacle (see pg. 72 Core 2e). We had a door as our Goal, so we had to hide a card under which represented what was behind the door. Even though the Doomvault begins in Norburg, we inserted this into the adventure between Hag Roost and the end of The Long Pattern where the Invincibles are guarding the descent to Mirror Lake.

We found a secret passage (in the ceiling of The Pattern) that led us on a side quest. After laying out the 3 index cards and determining the LG&O, I let the boys roll the Story Cubes to help create links between the 3 cards. In the top one they decided that the first card was a map they found in the ceiling. The map contained a magic locket in the shape of a Hieroglyph. The boys don’t know about the next adventure called Eyes of Sett. I told them that we could create a cool magic property that will come in handy on their next adventure. This could be a fun way to start that adventure. The map showed a way to descend to a different cavern.

We battled some Cave Ropers to get to the door. This door could only be opened at a certain time of the day. I made them accomplish a 4 heart study of the door that needed to be finished before a 4-round counter went down. They managed to open the door at the right time and fought 2 Giant Tentacles to earn everyone a Loot Card! The group went back and we managed to sneak past the Invincibles using Kang’s magic and Moonglum’s sneakiness. To cross Mirror Lake, we did another card draw as above. I won’t recount everything, but at one point Bran was inside of a Cave Roper being eaten and managed to kill it from within with his sword Hot Knife. This method of creating the story on the fly is fun and effective at generating collaborative game play.

I also wanted to mention some good products that I picked up on DriveThruRPG. The Game Master Worksheets are nice sheets to use if you want to create a one-shot all the way up to world building and campaign design. The Moldy Codex has a great Fantasy adventure called The Lost Tomb of the Skeleton King which I’ll likely run after Eyes of Sett. I sure hope Daniel continues production of the Moldy Codex.

Finally, this Goose IPA is legit! Stay thirsty, my friend!

 

This is a philosophical paper I wrote after much reading and pondering on the question of freewill.

A_Case_for_Free_Will_journal[1]

I have to say that I really love the intuitiveness and simplicity of ICRPG! These days I rarely get together with a regular group of adult gamers. More often, I’m playing RPGs with my boys who are just beginning to hit the age where I first started playing D&D.

I did, however, start them off playing Savage Worlds. I remember when I first tried to introduce them to 5e via “The Lost Mine of Phandelver”, my son missed one of his first rolls and exclaimed, “I want to spend a Benny!” Ooooo! Sorry, son, there aren’t any Bennies in 5e . . . until now.

I ran my first session of ICRPG using Hankerin’s rules for Hero Tokens and the continuous clockwise rotation, but I sure did miss SW’s Initiative and Benny system. We ran that game with no prep. We just used Hankerin’s art and some Rory’s Story Cubes to just create a cool story.

I decided to try out ICRPG using a D&D module and incorporating some SW-inspired home brew rules.

Benny Rules and Cards for Initiative

To the left of the pencil I have some large, steampunk tokens that I’m using for my Hero Tokens. Each player gets one and can use it for Maximum Effort. Essentially, this token allows a player to roll their d12 with either their weapon or magic damage so there is no reason to have any special d12s at the table – they use their d12s in their dice pool.

The Benny, however, is used to either re-roll a bad d20 roll OR it can be cashed in prior to rolling to gain Advantage on the next roll. Sometimes you roll and then just wish you could roll again and sometimes you want to cash in the Benny before the roll so that you can roll 2d20 (Advantage). Because this adds another d20 to the roll, I use the little red chips to the right of the pencil for my Bennies and have a pile of d20s on hand to toss at players when they choose to cash in a Benny.

I like this system since it allows players to use a Hero Token for Effort and Bennies for Attempts.

I did like Hankerin’s continuous initiative, but I really like the deck of cards method that SW uses. I believe it adds more suspense and drama to initiative, plus, whenever a Joker comes up, everyone gets a Benny and everyone’s attempt for the round is easy! Besides, there are times in the game (quite a bit, actually) when it’s not really anyone’s turn because the group is discussing what their next action or direction should be.

I chose to use the adventure called “Fane of the Sun Swallower” from the D&D Next book entitled “Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle”. This is a great little dungeon with some cool magic items. The first thing I did was go through and make my own little set of Loot cards that match all the magic items.

Just find all the entries for Treasure, and make your own cards. I used half of an index card and drew little pictures. My boys seem to love the tactile nature of getting a card rather than writing down the item on their character sheet.

I made a little Loot bag so I could create more as the need arises.

Besides my recent acquisition of both ICRPG books, I also recently got the Tal’Dorei campaign book and “Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes”.

I noticed in both Ghosts of Dragonspear and Mordenkainen’s the following pictures that all harken back to the original cover of the Player’s Handbook.

So, I created an ICRPG adventure that has the heroes going to retrieve the left eye of the statue. It is called “The Eidolon of Moloch”.

Hope you enjoy it!

This entry fueled by new favorite beer: Moose Drool

My boys and I decided to try our first session of ICRPG using characters based on the archetypes in the core book and just making up the story as we go along. First, let’s check out all the characters we created!

Kaden opted for the Scout and made his character Link from Zelda. Kaden is also using my oldest set of dice there – circa 1980’s.

Silas chose to make Peter Pan, the Mage version. I acquired the fin boots, but we altered them to winged boots and I traded them to Pete so he could fly. I mean, he is Peter Pan, after all.

Ryland chose a Guardian – Kili from the Hobbit, but not the movie depiction. His Kili is red headed and wields a massive battle hammer! Yeah!

I made a Wildling named Pullo. He’s based on the character in the HBO Rome series, but is Celtic rather than Roman – just a big lug. The cool thing about this game is that the loot I acquired has turned him into a healer type. He’s like a huge barbarian with magic rune stones.

Other characters we made, but aren’t using for Session 1 are Rakhir the Red Archer, Bran MacMorn, Kang, Dirk Moonglum, and The Green Knight.

We decided to use Loot Cards and Rory’s Story Cubes along with the actual Index Cards from the ICRPG game.

When I say, we made up the adventure on the fly, I mean we went into the game with absolutely no starting point and just started taking turns going around the table drawing cards and rolling dice and together we created a plot line.

We just arranged things the way we felt the story needed to logically flow and then went back and began going through the sequence of events, but in more detail. My kids absolutely loved this “theater of the mind” approach and they actually contributed quite a bit of cool detail to the story as we played through two battles and several trapped rooms.

We began in the midst of a dungeon where Pullo had just pulled a lever releasing a cloud of poison. We grabbed some magic items from the room revealed and battled some skeletons as we escaped the poison room. having narrowly escaped the horde of skeletons and the poison gas, we were suddenly in a long corridor filling with water. To escape we had to climb a gore and nail-adorned tower out of the level that was flooding. Pullo fell and suffered falling damage but made it out. The crew emerged in the midst of a troll ritual and had to stop the ritual from culminating in the summoning of some foul beast. Fortunately, we didn’t get too beat up and took out the trolls before the timer ran out! We drew loot cards for our victory and stopped just shy of halfway through our story line. That was about a good hour of play that left the kids eager to see what happens next!

This game is the best! I love ICRPG and can’t wait to play again with the boys. The thing I loved the best was the feel of the game. It felt like old-school D&D, but much simpler and streamlined. It’s also similar enough to 5e to feel familiar. I seriously could randomly choose almost any module or adventure and just run through it using the ICRPG with almost no work at all. Definitely my new fave for a universal RPG!

If you were to go and do a simple internet search for the phrase “artistic representations of Pi” (and I encourage you do so), you’d find a slew of amazing looking pieces that generally depict what looks like random noise. Sure, the noise may be presented elegantly, but the fact still remains, the digits of Pi, when plotted out, just represent an overall lack of pattern.

You, see, people tend to focus on the actual digits. Before I begin talking about an alternative approach, let’s talk about art in general. Upon the wall of my son’s pre-school classroom is a chart which reads: ELEMENTS OF ART. The elements include: Color, Value, Line, Texture, Shape, Form, and Space. This is a nice list that indicates the sort of elements that I tried to bring to the problem of representing Pi in what I believe are three very interesting ways.

There are a couple of other mathematical concepts that relate to art which I relied on heavily for this project. The first is Symmetry. By imposing symmetry onto Pi, it becomes less about the noise. This I did by folding Pi into a circle. Quite apropos, but it’s been done before.

The second thing I did was by studying which numbers do produce wonderful patterns in art. It turns out that this is done by creating what is called a Sequence. Arguably, the most famous sequence is the Fibonacci Sequence. This is created by using the real numbers and adding them together serially:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 . . .

The Fibonacci Sequence is a marvel of the mathematical world as well as appears throughout the natural world in countless permutations.

Another famous sequence is the Primes. A number that can’t be divided by any number except itself and 1:

2,3,5,7, 11, 13, 17, 19 . . .

There is an entire library of sequences:

Sequences

What is missing is the sequence created by adding the digits of Pi serially. I’ve searched and searched for the sequence’s name and for any research into exploring its properties, but, apparently, I’m laying claim to it.

The sequence turns out to be:

3, 4, 8, 9, 14, 23, 25, 31, 36 . . .

One thing you’ll notice about such sequences is that they almost always grow as the sequence progresses. It is because of the relationship between the numbers, rather than just the numbers themselves, that make sequences a great tool for an artist and a mathematician to explore.

It should also be noted that I chose a 36 degree circle because of its divisibility and the fact that it limits most of the sequences I wanted to explore to a range of 6 to 11 numbers. A very manageable set that can be used for multiple purposes, as you’ll see. So, with the limit set to 36, the serialized Pi sequence we are going to explore by encoding into three schemas is once again:

3, 4, 8, 9, 14, 23, 25, 31, 36

These nine numbers will be turned into 3D Shapes, Colors, and Sounds.

To understand my approach, it helps to understand how to form a cardioid – a shape within a circle that resembles a heart.

We’ll be using a 36-degree circle, so it helps to understand how these 36 nodes will be counted. For these examples, we’ll always be using the bottom node as our Starting Point (the node in the South direction, or in the 6 o’clock position. Instead of counting the Starting Point as “1”, however, we consider it to be “0”.

Notice that when you count up one side of the circle that the lines grow longer until you reach the number “18”, which is directly opposite node “0”, and then the lines become shorter incrementally again as you count higher. In essence, the numbers 1-17 all have a corollary number 19-35 so that the distance from 0 to 1 is the same in length as 0 to 35. In the same way, 0 to 2 is the same as 0 to 34, etc.

With all this in mind, it will help to view the next two links and learn about the Cardioid.

Cardioid

Cardioid 2

In creating a Cardioid on a 36-degree circle, each step in the process creates just one instance of a particular number that is always of the formula n = n x 2. This pattern creates a mirrored spiral across the even numbers where the lines grow to node 18 and then shrink again as the numbers go higher.

But let us now consider the act of creating a line from every single node of the same number over and over. Take for example the number “9”. When the number “9” is fully mapped around the circle, a smaller circle appears. This circle of the number “9” is actually formed out of the half-way points of every single line.

But also notice that the number “9” corresponds to the number “27”. Before we move on to a method to differentiate such cases of corollary numbers, let’s take a look at what the number sequence of 3, 4, 8, 9, 14, 23, 25, 31, and 36 looks like when plotted in number circles within a 36-degree circle in pencil.

The pencil version looks pretty amazing, but presents a problem with higher numbers that might get confused with or even overlay lower numbers.

To see the issue clearer, let’s keep in mind that the goal is to create an actual 3D version of the circle using thread for the lines. When constructing a 3D version, the thread gets built from the base upwards. In other words, the thread goes on the loom in the reverse order of the numbers. What happens when higher numbers are covered over with thread as the lower numbers get added?

To see the problem clearer, let’s view several sequences in cross-sectional views.

Interestingly enough, from doing this, we see that the Pi Sequence is actually a great sequence to apply to the 36-degree circle. The Prime Sequence turns out to be a bad choice, at least with 36 degrees. The “odd” nature of Prime Sequence causes several numbers to coincide with their corollary, which would hide the higher number and/or artificially reinforce the lower numbers (e.g 5 & 31, 7 & 29, 13 & 23, 17 & 19).

This doesn’t happen with the Cardioid because the even numbers are only “counted” one instance whereas using our method, each number is “counted” 36 times to form the full circle.

An artistic method of differentiating the lower and higher corollaries is to map each number to a color. I chose to use the RBG color wheel because it is already mapped onto a circle. Plus, the values are precisely determined – even though I chose not to seek out thread colors of such exacting values.

By adding color values to the circle we can see quite easily the difference between a “yellow 6-valued circle” and a “magenta 30-valued circle”.

The end result is like looking through a rainbow of the digits of the Pi Sequence.

This next picture illustrates the rainbow color of the cross section which is formed.

Not wanting to stop there, I chose to apply the sequence to music.

The problem then becomes how to project a musical scale onto a 36-degree circle? It just so happens that 36 can be divided into 12 sets of 3 numbers. The Western musical scale also has 12 note values in an octave for the Chromatic Scale.

This process, unlike the previous two of mapping numbers and colors, cannot be reversed, though. Since numbers 1, 2, and 3, could all become the first note, there is no way to know the first note and from that extrapolate backwards whether that note is exactly 1, 2, or 3. But it is still a fun exercise to see how the Pi Sequence sounds when plotted onto the circle of notes.

For my version, I chose to start with the note A and build from A being the root note.

Note               Note Value      Original Number

A                      0                      1-3

A#/Bb              1                      4-6

B                      2                      7-9

C                      3                      10-12

C#/Db              4                      13-15

D                      5                      16-18

D#/Eb              6                      19-21

E                      7                      22-24

F                      8                      25-27

F#/Gb              9                      28-30

G                     10                    31-33

G#/Ab             11                    34-36

A (again 1 octave higher)

Our Pi Sequence (3, 4, 8, 9, 14, 23, 25, 31, 36) becomes:

A, A#, B, B, C#, E, F, G, G#

This creates 9 notes and I chose to write in the unorthodox time signature of 9/8 time. My method was to break down the notes into three groups of three notes each. I also wrote a return to Pi at the end that emphasized the numbers 3, 1, 4, 1, 5, and then 9 but using the 9-note sequence as a reprise. 314159 then plays over and over until fade out.

Plotted on a midi sequencer, it looks like this when played twice. I lowered the last 3 notes an octave.

Here is the final result.

The Sound of the Pi Sequence

Here are several pictures of the build.

 

 

 

 

We’re getting ready to start a BECMI/OSR campaign and so I decided to review the following BECMI/OSR products:

  • Rules Cyclopedia
  • Labyrinth Lords
  • Dark Dungeons
  • Blood & Treasure
  • Swords & Wizardry
  • Red & Blue Books with B/X Companion

What I discovered was that all roads point back to the Rules Cyclopedia. To me, it’s the best book that I use to look up all sorts of things. It’s not the be-all, end-all of sources, but it’s my go-to.

I have to admit that back in the 80’s when I was playing original BECMI/AD&D, our group jumped on the AD&D products immediately, and I never really played too much in the Mystara setting. It’s a shame because I now believe that Mystara is the best setting for playing the type of BECMI/OSR game we’re going to be playing.

Also, we’re going to be using Chapter 5 of the RC which means Weapon Proficiencies and General Skills will be used extensively. The Mystara section and Chapter 5 are two more reasons why the RC is the source of choice. The following document clarifies certain rules that will be used in the campaign:

Session Zero for Mystara Campaign Using Rules Cyclopedia and Labyrinth Lord

To me, the coolest part of what we’re going to be running is using a very specific set of character classes. My players can only choose from the following 16 classes. These classes come from James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games:

Archer

Assassin

Bandit

Barbarian

Berserker

Bounty Hunter

Explorer

Gladiator

Pirate

Rune Smith

Scoundrel

Swashbuckler

Sword Master

Undead Slayer

Wanderer

Wild Wizard

I took all of these classes and made a resource for the players to use.

Since we’ll be utilizing Weapon Proficiency and General Skills, I found a character sheet online that has an entire page dedicated to these mechanics. I’m not sure of its origin, but it’s perfect for our campaign.

D&D Character Record Sheet (Knotwork)

Finally, the one area of adventure that I just couldn’t find a system that I truly loved was the Hex Crawl. I’m sure there are numerous systems that are just fine, but I wanted to make travel and encounters have a simple system and use the groups’ skills.

I found the perfect set of encounter tables online. They were created by Jed McClure and he calls them Wilderness Hexplore. The system was designed for a map with absolutely no idea what lies beyond the home hex you start on. Since we’ll be in the Mystara campaign world, I modified his method, but I still think his tables are pretty robust.

Jed McClure_Wilderness_Hexplore_revised

My system utilizes his tables, but it requires the party of adventurers to be more involved in taking on certain roles as the group travels. Here is the revised system that utilizes skills from the General Skills list in the RC.

Overland Travel Rules for BECMI & OSR

One of the first games I ever created was a Gladiator game called The Colosseum. Don’t go buy it, though. It’s bad. I mean, the concept was good in many parts, but the combat was fairly dull. I’ve always intended to go back and re-develop the game, but it was always something on the back burner.

Lately I’ve been getting into the game Labyrinth Lord. It’s basically BECMI re-skinned and quite awesome!

I put together a campaign path that runs through a whole bunch of old core modules set in Mystara. The path (with options to change the path in branching directions looks like this:

  • B-2 Keep on the Borderlands (Lvl 1-3) or DDA1 Arena of Thyatis (Lvl 2-3)
  • X-1 Isle of Dread (Lvl 3-7) or DDA2 Legions of Thyatis (Lvl 3-4) if DDA1 was used and then run X-1.
  • X-13 Crown of Ancient Glory (Lvl 7-10) if players want to remain in Mystara, HWA1 Nightwail (Lvl 6-8) if players want to explore Hollow World.
  • HWA2 Nightrage (Lvl 7-9) if they chose HWA1
  • HWA3 Nightstorm (Lvl 8-10) if they chose HWA1 & 2
  • X-10 Red Arrow, Black Shield (Lvl 10-14) [all paths merge here]
  • CM-9 Legacy of Blood (Lvl 15-19)
  • CM-6 Where Chaos Reigns (Lvl 17-19)
  • M-5 Talons of Night (Lvl 20-25)
  • M-1 Into the Maelstrom (Lvl 25-30)
  • M-2 Vengeance of Alphaks (Lvl 28-32)

 

You’ll notice under the first bullet that DDA1 begins at 2nd Lvl. I began to think of how character could play first level as Gladiators and this led back to my old game.

Well, when I sat down to read over my old game, I remembered why I hated it and I decided to see what else was out there. One of the first hits I got was the game I’ll be using as the core system to run this game: Are You Not Entertained?!

The game is extremely easy to play and is perfect for running quick and fun Gladiator battles. Plus, it’s FREE!

I printed it in booklet form and then printed the stats for the types of Gladiators on card stock to make their sheets. There are eight types (including a bear and lion).

I found 2 packs of Permes paper minis that were Gladiator themed to make the Gladiator minis. Both packs together was about $4.

I chose to use blue and red dice to represent the colors of Attack and Defense like on the cards.

Hit Points can be tracked using 20-sided dice and since Magic uses nice, big ones for the same thing, I just used a bunch of those.

Finally, I happened to be browsing the hobby store and found the perfect arena by Paizo. It costs about $9.

We ran the game to test it out and two things I chose to adjust. One thing I found was that the battles tended to remain stationary. There’s no real incentive to move around once combat has started. So, in my supplement, I chose to add an incentive to move around more. The second thing I noticed was that combat damage can be hard to inflict. To adjust the option to make the battle move along even faster, I added some additional options to Advancements. I also wanted to be able to import this into a Savage Worlds Weird Wars Rome game, so I added four new types of Gladiator. You could consider this an advanced rules supplement:

Blood on the Gladius

You could very easily drop this into any RPG in various ways. It’s fun to just run it by itself and conduct numerous variations on tournaments and house rules.

Here is a handy Gladiator Tournament Brackets I created.

One final touch is your Gladiator name and background.

Here is a sample stable of Gladiators created from this and ready for fighting in an 8-man tournament. I used Thyatis instead of Rome, but you get the gist.

Enjoy!

I had idea of how to use my nifty Chessex Goblin Dice for a non-rpg game for the whole family.

After the conference, I still had 5 dice, so I created Goblin Yahtzee!

Goblin Yahtzee

Enjoy!

 

I’ve been toying around with a method to play Savage Worlds in a streamlined, solitaire style. The method I created requires the following products. The first is the Map & Dice deck from Inked Adventures. Each card includes a small geomorph dungeon section, suit and card number, and die results for a d6, d20, and d100. I created a Setting Rule that allows you to spend a Benny to use the dice results on the cards rather than the number you rolled. If, for example, the card had a 6 on a d6, you could spend a Benny a get an Aced die result!

I, once again, used Gold & Glory to create a random character. That is the character you must use for the 10 rounds of play. You’ll also need the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition and the Fantasy Companion.

I chose to use the Fantasy Companion character sheet for the play tests.

You’ll need a standard set of Polyhedral dice as well as a Wild Die. A set of percentile dice and an additional d10 to help track rounds are handy.

The goal is not only to survive 10 rounds (you could make it longer, too, to see how long you survive!), but to also see how much treasure you can accumulate each time you play. I converted everything to gold pieces just to make it easier. Don’t forget to calculate the value of magic items should you find those as well. Also, monsters in the Fantasy Companion have a treasure rating; don’t forget to loot the monsters you defeat.

Basically, each suit of the cards represents a different type of encounter: Spades = Traps, Hearts = rest and healing, Diamonds = Treasure, and Clubs = a monster.

For my fights with monsters, I chose to use the Quick Combat and Quick Skirmish rules. Quick Combat is just one roll. Quick Skirmish can be several rounds, but is still just one roll. In other words, by using these rules, you never need to roll for the monsters.

Begin with 5 Bennies, shuffle the deck, and follow these guidelines:

SW Solitaire Dungeon

Not long ago I decided to order a couple of Call of Cthulhu RPG materials. I found a great copy of “Dreamlands: Roleplaying Beyond the Wall of Sleep”. This is such a great setting book for the Dreamlands!

In the introduction, Sandy Petersen and Chris Williams provide sources for where they gathered their material from. While the Lovecraft citations are, of course, required, they also mentions works by Brian Lumley, Clark Ashton Smith, and Gary Myers.

My pursuit of these lesser known books by Myers, Lumley, and Smith began.

This would be a comprehensive library of Dreamlands related material that could be referenced for any adventures you might want to run in the Dreamlands for your role playing.

The Myers book was a pleasant surprise. It is a small, hardback edition. It might even be the first edition of the book. Pendragon Fine Books of California had it for a very reasonable price.

As far as I know, the only published Savage Worlds setting that takes place in the Dreamlands is the crossover book done for Aching! Cthulhu and DUST, which is an epic adventure!

And I must once again mention the map that ties all of this together at the gaming table, the map by Jason Thompson:

Map of the Dreamlands

Thompson also mentions Gary Myers as well as Lord Dunsany.